© Selim Projects

Superefemeerne / Superephemeral

Finalist proposal in the International Curator Competition for the Estonian Exhibition at the 16th Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, June 2017

In today’s digital cultures, the mass-availability, reproduction and reappropriation of images is undoubtedly affecting our relationship with history. In architecture too, the classical and static foundations are no longer stone-solid, but have instead opened up for new uses, enthusiasms and global readings. Similarly, objecthoods, materiality and aesthetics of the near-history have been desanctified, entering the same continuous archival spaces as historical and contemporary practices.

Amidst these developments, a multitude of questions arise regarding the current state of architecture:

On which re-worked aesthetic or sentimental foundations does architecture build itself in a time after the digitalization of most aspects of our daily lives?

How could these potential new trajectories be discussed beyond positivism or technological jargon, on par with the past, classical solemnities of our understanding of the world?

How will our relationship with historical references, or our identities, change in these processes?

SUPEREPHEMERAL suggests a research-based design dialogue, disseminating these developments further through interactions in the Estonian context and realm of practitioners and cultural agents, with compilations and re-organizations of past and present architectural material and knowledge, as to form an extended, yet ephemeral, time frame.

The purpose of the research is to accumulate a sufficient visual “collection” that can be mirrored as both the “stones” of architectural knowledge, as well as the ephemeral, post-digitally circulating imagery of today. In a way, the project is a simulation of the interests of the post-internet era. The “collection”, then, provides a background, against which contemporary practices are looked at. But rather than aiming to merely showcase a selection of recent architectural projects, we propose to engage with contemporary practitioners, inviting them to reflect on their projects and practices to propose new visual or ephemeral interpretations of their involvement or non-involvement in the post-digital cultures.

At the core of the proposal lies a fundamental question of architecture’s role in post-digital histories. Today in the thoroughly networked global reality, we find a dual relationship emerging with the “old” proven traditions and a dispersed and splintered view of the future. On one hand, we cling to both the known past and recent modernities. On the other hand, we are increasingly curious to challenge history, its connotations and familiar canons, superimposing our own interpretations or fascinations onto it. We are again willing to seek newness in the very “stones” of our nature as well as the more obscure cultural layers of the past.

Are these endeavours critical or merely ephemeral? Can ephemeral be architectural?